As the NHL season comes to a conclusion, hockey analysts try and predict every award winner - or at least most of them. The Lady Byng Trophy is one of the most subjective awards in hockey, making it incredibly hard to guess a winner. Usually the safe bet is to name a forward, as only one defenseman has won the award since 1954, and no goalie has ever won the Lady Byng.
If the Professional Hockey Writers Association is at a loss for who deserves the award, they should strongly consider Roman Josi.
Roman Josi is having a phenomenal season and being one of the newest (and youngest) captains in the NHL has not fazed him at all. With 10 goals and 47 points, he has been an integral part of the Nashville Predators’ offence all year. His ability to play elite structural defense and break out the puck makes him a true 200-foot threat whenever he touches the ice.
As much of a threat as he is to other teams’ records, he is not threatening towards players. So far, Roman Josi has only taken ten penalties this season - four of which came in the first ten games of the season - for only 20 total penalty minutes. Over the last 55 games Roman Josi has played, he has only taken six penalties. That’s nearly unheard of for a defenseman. Furthermore, with such an emphasis placed on defensemen to protect their goalies, Roman Josi has not taken one roughing penalty all season long. Most importantly, he has not taken a major or misconduct penalty.
Two years ago, Anze Kopitar won the Lady Byng with 16 penalty minutes. However, even that number can be considered low compared to what many people have been used to seeing - Pavel Datsyuk won the award four straight years without being below 20 penalty minutes. Joe Sakic won the Lady Byng with 30. Gretzky once had 34 when he won it. With 20 penalty minutes, Roman Josi would be about average for a Lady Byng winner.
Off the ice, Roman Josi wears the word sportsmanship like a mantle. From his work with Best Buddies, where he’s gone out of his way to develop friendships with those in the program and hosted the Best Buddies Prom, to hanging out with children from the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home, Roman Josi has a love of volunteering. How convenient it is that Tennessee is the Volunteer state.
A true gentleman both on and off the ice, Roman Josi gives the Professional Hockey Writer’s Association a chance to give a defenseman the Lady Byng Trophy this season. Considering they’ve only done that once in the last 64 years, they should jump at this chance.